Paloma Garcia is part of a new breed of innovators seeking the highest level of service in hairstyling within Australia. As a child you always imagine how mysterious the lives of adults are and possibly wondering how playing with cashiers would alike to life as a cashier girl. But, Paloma’s burgeoning lust for playing with hair as a young child steadily assured her dreams for hairdressing. She has been mentored by infamous figureheads in the industry to the likes of Sharon Maher, and mimicked the success of her predecessors to become a Salon Partner at OSCAR OSCAR Salons in Paddington. Being inspired by her employees’ attitude more than their skills is a pure reflection of Paloma’s leadership which she translates in balancing her time between work and home . Interested in knowing how Paloma drives difference in her business and her evolving style journey? Keep reading to learn all things business and all things Paloma.
What is your current job title?
Salon Partner/Manager of Oscar Oscar Salon in Paddington & Redken Artist.
Was hairdressing always your dream career?
Always! Since I was a young girl I have always been drawn to hair. At age 10 I would have all the girls from my class lined up ready for me to give them plaits, braids and pigtails. This dream continued to grow the older I got.
What inspired you to pursue a career in this industry?
Once I started working at Synergy Salon in Darlinghurst (with the famous Sharon Maher) at age 15 I got to work alongside a team of 25 diverse and highly creative people. Even though I was only a tea and tidy girl then, I started to see the impact that I had on the team in terms of support and then the assistance and comfort I could offer the clients. This gave me a lot of satisfaction and I am still inspired by this 15 years into my career.
What was your first job?
I worked at a very small salon (Janet Vincent Haircutters) in Mosman where I grew up. It was where my mother got her hair done. I still have such clear memories of this workplace. I used to rip foils and clean and make tea and coffee.
What was your most important lesson while completing your training at Synergy Salon and working with Sharon Maher?
I remember one morning as a 1st year apprentice setting up the salon for a big day ahead. Sharon burst in with all her infectious energy and asked “how are you today?”. I casually replied “good”. She looked at me and said “come on, let’s have an amazing day!”. I still remember how this incredible positive energy totally shifted my day. I always strive to be a motivating and positive leader for my team. Assisting in the growth of each of my individual team members gives me the most joy. Sometimes I look at them and just well up; I feel like a proud mother with them. Sharon definitely showed me that side of leadership and of course Oscar continues to inspire me to lead/mentor and coach.
What do you love most about having a share in the ownership of OSCAR OSCAR?
It’s an incredible brand. A salon group of 15 salons around Australia with a 5 star level of service offering and working alongside the most luxurious hair brands. Oscar is a very dynamic businessman, which is rare in such a creative industry and I love working with him and continually learning. There is so much development in the brand. From the personalised detail of the beverages we offer to the constant development of everyone’s skills around new hair trends. We are always striving for best practice!
What are your goals for OSCAR OSCAR?
To deliver world class hair, offer exceptional service for all our guests and work in a harmonious and supportive team environment.
How has the hairdressing industry changed since you first started?
So much! In my apprenticeship I remember most of the hairdressers drinking more beers or wines than their clients while doing their hair on the late nights! There was an element of rock n’ roll that went with being a hairdresser in the late 90’s, everyone partied hard. There wasn’t the focus on service and professionalism like there is today. The importance of hairdressing as a craft hasn’t changed though.
What has been your greatest career achievement to date?
Honestly, my team. I always say, how they perform is a reflection of my leadership/mentoring/guidance. They are a seriously incredible group of people with an amazing skill set and I am so proud to say I get to work with them everyday. I am currently a finalist for NSW Hairdresser of the Year for 2015 – I would love to take that title too:)
Do you believe that salons and people need a ‘point of difference’ to succeed in the hairdressing industry?
Absolutely! I believe that whatever everyone else is doing, let’s do it differently. Sydney has so many wonderful salons in such close proximity. I love calling new guests and getting feedback on their first experience and hearing what they loved or even didn’t love and always reviewing and discussing what we are doing with the team. I am also so fussy about service, and unfortunately Australia isn’t at the forefront of this. I love travelling overseas and bringing back new ideas to the team and continually developing what we do.
What gives OSCAR OSCAR its point of difference?
The people and warmth you get from the team. And of course, the hair! As a team we have such a great warmth within our environment. Guests often remark how comfortable they feel even on their first experience. We are a team of hairdressers that constantly seeks education and growth, thus providing the most beautiful and high-end hair.
Who inspires you?
So many people! Oscar, my business partner, for his drive and determination. Ann Maree Mason, our GM for the way she helps me understand people and helps assist me in getting grounded within myself. Rudi Lewis, such an incredible hair stylist. Kym Ellery, my dear friend who seriously works harder than anyone I know!
What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring new people?
I hire on attitude more than skill. If someone has a positive and open attitude then you really can teach him or her anything. In saying that, they must have a skill set to offer as we don’t do boot camp! I love finding out what people’s non-negotiable core values are too.
What advice do you have for people seeking a career in the hair or beauty industry?
Anything is possible. I believe in ‘from root to fruit’! You must be happy to serve others. This is something a lot of people overlook. But it’s mandatory if you want to succeed in the industry. And be OPEN to always learning!
How do you manage being a working mum?
Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t! The balance is key. I know when I am working too much and my children need me. I can feel it and see it. My new saying is ‘you can only do, what you can only do’. I try not to be too hard on myself. And I love having a few drinks on the weekend and letting my hair down! Recently I went and saw Rachel Zoe speak. She spoke about not having her phone in the same room with her when she is with her kids. I have totally taken that on board and I love it!
What does style mean to you?
It’s who you are. I think it’s so important to be authentic and feel comfortable because that’s when you look your best. Style always comes from your beliefs, which I love. I love having style in my house, my clothes, my hair, the food I eat… the list goes on. I love the aesthetic side of it. But most of all it comes from a belief.
How would you describe your personal style?
Comfortable and simple. My style has changed so much over the last 10 years! As I am about to turn 30 I can definitely see how my style has matured. I buy less but better. Mainly at Parlour X – it’s my go-to boutique if I need to update or add to my wardrobe! My top brands I love would be Isabel Marant, Carvan, Jack and Jack and Willow. I like streamlined pieces that are comfortable, especially Ellery. I have learnt what colour palettes work for me. I don’t like to buy pieces that are ‘on trend’. I like things that are more classic. I am always conscious of looking back on photos after 10 years, and never saying ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ I also love hair and make up trends that are more natural than fashion focused. I feel like I had my 20’s to experiment and now I am confident with what works for me and my aesthetic.
If you had to begin your career again, would you do anything differently?
Absolutely not. Only more of the same 🙂
You can follow Paloma on Instagram at @palomarosegarcia